Reply to post: Over 60% are at "medium risk" of robots?

If Syria pioneered grain processing by watermill in 350BC, the UK in 2019 can do better... right?

DougS Silver badge

Over 60% are at "medium risk" of robots?

That pretty much assumes an AI capable of human level language understanding, to eliminate all customer facing positions from call centers to cashiers to receptionists to salespeople. While the common man probably thinks we are closing in on that because you can ask your phone a question and sometimes get a meaningful response, that's miles away from being able to handle a complex conversational interaction like someone calling customer service to resolve a billing dispute. We are nowhere near this! Which is a good thing, because it will be the biggest challenge political systems have faced since the Magna Carta.

Since the "service industry" is what replaced so many manufacturing jobs after they were displaced by a combination of automation and offshoring (after that industry replaced so many agricultural jobs after automation and consolidation displaced those) the effect of the service industry jobs being replaced by automation, which is what they're talking about here, is a huge risk simply because we don't know what those people will be doing next.

It is fine to say "oh this has been worried about before and there have always been jobs for those people" but it is far less clear what they'll be doing next than it was in the past. They can't all become "robot repairmen" even if you could wave a magic wand and give them all the necessary knowledge and training, that would only provide jobs for a few percent.

So what is 50% of the population going to do when there are no longer jobs for them? A "robot tax" as some have proposed is silly, because what's a robot? Is a water wheel for grain a "robot", since it displaces workers? How much tax does its owner owe, and for that matter how much tax do you owe on your PC/printer which displaces the work of a private secretary, typesetter, printer, accountant, etc.

Once we get a true general AI that allows "robots" to replace people in customer facing situations, society is going to need to evolve. Capitalism will no longer work, we'll have to find something better (and socialism and communism have been tried many times and never succeeded without the iron boot of a central government to enforce it, so let's hope that's not the "answer" to this dilemma)

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